Travel Decision Fatigue as a Solo Traveler

A few months ago, I came across the statistic that an average person makes about 40000 decisions in a day. That’s a lot, right? Probably makes you question the credibility of that number and every time I have shared that number, people have been skeptical. In response to that, I usually break down our time together like which cafe to go to, what do we eat, what do we drink, which route should we take, which vehicle should we ride, should we overtake the person ahead of us or not, should we ask the question, and on and on. It’s then easier to see how these would add up during the day. Many of them seem insignificant but they do take time and energy that add up over the course of the day.

Decision fatigue is this state of exhaustion that renders a person unable or make decisions with increasing difficulty. Some of the symptoms of decision fatigue are – Procrastination, inability to make a decision, making rash decisions, irritability, etc.

As a solo traveler, the number of decisions I have to make increases quite substantially from where do I stay to where do I eat and at times bigger decisions like which place or country to head to next.

Quite early on my travels, I had made peace with the fact that I can’t see everything and there will always be beautiful places I would miss out on visiting or interesting people, I would miss meeting. The good thing is there are no wrong answers in the travel world. There’s always a nicer place to see along the road and an abundance of nice people to meet.

I Unfortunately, this peace did not transcend into my digital nomad life and every once in a while I find myself overwhelmed with decision making. To reduce this burden, I am on a constant quest to simplify my life. Below are some of the ways that have helped me on this journey:

A minimalist wardrobe

Having a packing cube for a wardrobe has already simplified this for me but now whenever I have to replace a damaged piece of clothing, I replace it with mostly blacks and Blues. So my wardrobe comprises of same or similar looking clothes.

Many business leaders have recognized the benefits of this and almost always wear the same clothes like Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Nuseir Yassin (from Nas Daily).

Meal Prep

This may not sit well with foodies but for someone who does not mind eating same food or same kind of food everyday, it’s a great blessing.

The way I incorporate it in travel world is not by creating a meal plan but by eating same breakfast everyday. I eat peanut butter sandwich with banana, dates, and almonds almost everyday. This helps me start my day by using my mental energy on more important decisions. Also, wherever I stay for longer than a week, I eat salad for lunch. This is pretty much my salad recipe that I can customize to the ingredients I have available and is ready within 15 minutes.

Shopping Lists

Being lost in grocery store isles is a situation I have often myself in and even then I forget things I needed to get. Now I have an ongoing list of things I need to get. This helps me reduce my time wandering the isles, looking at everything I don’t really need.

Priority To-do lists

I have made to-do lists for as long as I can remember but the since I started working, the length of my list started increasing and often times items had to be transferred to next day’s list too. To combat this problem, I now make my list with three top-priority items in the order I need to get them done. This makes me feel less overwhelmed looking at a long list of items that needs to be done.

Automated payments

I have very few items on this list but the few recurring payments I have, have been automated so I am not faced with the decision, ‘should I pay it today or later’.

Marking Places on Maps

Travel world is full of questions if there’s anything that outnumbers that it is the number of answers to those questions. From places to eat to places to stay at, there is no shortage of supply. I make use of people’s experiences and just mark places on maps when someone gives raving reviews about a place. That way I would have one less decision to make when I reach this place.

It has also taken me to some of the most beautiful places that weren’t on the guidebooks or tourist maps.

Having principles that work for us

Over a period of time, I have recognized my overarching principles in life and when faced with a bigger decision, I ask which of the options is aligned with this principle. One of the things that’s of prime importance to me is peace of mind and I keep that at the center of my decision making. If there’s any situation that hampers my peace of mind, my decision would gravitate towards removing myself from that situation or avoiding it all together.

At the end of the day, I remind myself that none of the decisions I make would mean end of the world for anyone. In the larger scheme of things, everything is kind of insignificant.

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